a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: in his first news conference as president—elect, donald trump rejects claims he might be vulnerable to blackmail by the russians. volkswagen agrees to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us and to pay one of the biggest fines ever for disguising emissions from its diesel cars. the taliban release video of two abducted professors, one australian, the other american, pleading for donald trump to help free them. and drawing a line under the obama presidency — we talk to the artist who's painted him every day since he took office. hello. donald trump's first press conference in six months has been dominated by the issue
of whether the us president—elect might be vulnerable to blackmail by the russians. he angrily denied allegations in a leaked report that russian intelligence might have gathered compromising information about him. he attacked america's intelligence agencies, and suggested they might have leaked the report. he criticised some of the media too, for spreading allegations he says are "fake news, phoney stuff, put together by sick people". ian pannell reports from new york. it's been almost half a year since we've seen one of these, a donald trump press conference. and what great timing for the president—elect. with the media baying for blood or at least a bone. because we've just learnt intelligence chiefs gave mr trump documents alleging russia has compromising material on him. i think it's a disgrace that information would be let out. i saw the information, i read the information outside
of that meeting. it's all fake news, it's phoney stuff, it didn't happen. a dossier compiled by an ex—mi6 agent makes unproven allegations that russia has damning details of mr trump's business interest and lurid claims involving sex workers. i'm surrounded by people, and i always tell them, anywhere, but i always tell them, if i'm leaving this country, be very careful, because in your hotel rooms, no matter where you go, you're probably going to have cameras. be careful. because you don't want to see yourself on television. cameras all over the place. and again, notjust russia. all over. does anyone really believe that story? i'm also very much a germaphobe, by the way. believe me. mr trump's having none of it, neither is the kremlin. only a handful of people had this information. the president—elect is clear who he thinks leaked it. i think it was disgraceful,
disgraceful, that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. i think it's a disgrace. and i say that, and i say that, and that's something that nazi germany would have done and did do. i think it is a disgrace. ian pannell from the bbc news. bbc news, that's another beauty. if they come back with any kind of conclusion that any of it stands up, that any of it is true, will you consider your position? would you think about it? there is nothing they can come back with. this is related to the hacking scandal. the kremlin is acccused of a cyber attack during the election, something the kremlin denies. until now donald trump has refused to single out russia for blame. as far as hacking i think
it was russia and i also think we were hacked by other countries, and other people. even so, mr trump plans to rebuild relations with russia. if putin likes donald trump, i consider that is an asset, not a liability. ‘cause we have a horrible relationship with russia. russia can help us fight isis, which, by the way, is, number one, tricky. there was a appeasement for some and vitriol for others, especially cnn, the news channel that broke the russia story. sir, since you're attacking us, can you give us a question? go ahead. mr president—elect. no, not you. your organisation is terrible. sir? your organisation is terrible. go ahead. mr president—elect. quiet. go ahead. she is asking a question. don't be rude. can you give us a question? no, i am not going to give you a question. you are fake news. this press conference was to be about the trump business empire. today he produced papers showing he's handing over control to his sons. not that he feels he has to, mind. as a president i could run the trump organisation, great, great company,
and i could run the company, ah, the country, i'd do a very good job, but i don't want to do that. the president—elect has left trump tower and in nine days‘ time he won't be the president—elect, he will be the 45th president of the united states, this is a pretty combative performance by donald trump but doubts and questions will still linger about his business practices and in some people's minds about any associations that may or may not have existed in russia. he repeated his pledge to build a wall with mexico and replace obamacare. if today was any guide, you might want to hold onto your hats and your seats for the trump presidency. aus a us intelligence chief has spoken with the president—elect on the phone and he says he doesn't believe the us intelligence community leaked the us intelligence community leaked the document. i asked our washington reporter laura bicker about the reliability of the information that's been released.
the sources we have had told us that the information is credible. it does not mean it is accurate nor true. it is unverifiable. but they deemed it sufficiently newsworthy enough to give to the president—elect and the president as part of that briefing that they had last week on russian hacking. we understand that — certainly this is the work of my colleague — he has outlined the entire story online if you want to have a look. he had the story back in october and the bbc chose not to publish it because it was unverifiable. but he understands there is more than one source for this and more than one tape, in fact. as well there is audio tape, and on more than one occasion that they have these videotapes in saint petersburg and in moscow. when it comes to the claims
themselves, you heard that mr trump denies it and that it is fake news. as far as his supporters are concerned, are they likely to see this, aren't they, as fabricated news and since they voted for him despite everything that has come out about him, they will not care anyway. that is correct. i think when it comes to his supporters they will see today's press conference as donald trump himself. the man that they voted for. there were several lines in that that were very trump—esque and reminiscent of the campaign. he said things like "if you think hillary clinton could be harder on putin than i will, give us a break." he went on to lambast the media. these are things that his supporters liked to see during the campaign. they liked bombastic billionaire and off—the—cuff remarks. that is what they liked about him. when it comes to the media's view — the media, much of the us media, their view and their editorials from major newspapers condemned
mr trump as a presidential candidate. despite that, millions of people decided that he was to be their president—elect. so today, with regards to these allegations and his relationship with the media, it is unlikely to affect his standing. the mexican president has again insisted his country will not pay for a wall along the border with the united states. enrique pena nieto was speaking just after the trump press conference, during which the president—elect said he wanted to start building it immediately and that mexico would reimburse the united states for the cost. as donald trump faced the media, his nominee for secretary of state rex tillerson was facing questions from a confirmation panel of senators considering his suitability for thejob. it lasted around nine hours. the oil executive has been under fire for his close ties to russia. he told senators it was "a fair assumption" that russia's president was behind hacking of the us election, and criticised china's growing power in the world.
aleem maqbool reports. rex tillerson was donald trump's surprise choice to be secretary of state. as he tried to convince congress he's fit for thejob, he appeared to have a tougher line on russia than the man who picked him. russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interest. it has invaded the ukraine, including the taking of crimea, and supported syrian forces that brutally violates the laws of war. but mr tillerson‘s background as chief executive of oil and gas giant exxonmobil involves extensive ties with russia, even receiving the country's medal of friendship from vladimir putin. some politicians are clearly not convinced he's really able to get tough on the kremlin, and it finally showed. is vladimir putin a war criminal? i would not use that term. let me describe the situation in aleppo and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion. senator rubio went on to describe
what he called the "targeting of civilians" by russian forces in syria. you are still not prepared to say that vladimir putin and his military have violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in aleppo? those are very, very serious charges to make and i would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion. there's so much information out there. you know, i find it discouraging, your inability to cite that. and protesters dressed in kkk robes have disrupted proceedings to confirm another of donald trump's picks. would you raise your hand, please? jeff sessions is the man donald trump wants to be his attorney general, a man who, in the 1980s, was denied a judgeship over claims of racial discrimination. i am not a racist. i'm not insensitive to blacks. in his hearing, some of the leading black voices in congress laid out their concerns. he has demonstrated a total disregard for the equal application
ofjustice and protection of the law as it applies to african—americans and falls short on so many issues. it's still likely that both rex tillerson and jeff sessions will be confirmed in their respective posts, but also clear that in these choices, at least, donald trump has not felt the need to reassure those americans who are concerned about his politics when it comes to russia or race. aleem maqbool, bbc news, washington. the german carmaker volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us, for using illegal software to disguise the level of emissions produced by its diesel powered cars. it has also agreed to pay a5 billion dollars in fines. six employees have been indicted, including one arrested just last week. sarah corker reports. it's been dubbed the dieselgate, the world's second biggest carmaker reading environmental tests boardies diesel emissions and now volkswagen will play a heavy price for what us authorities have described as a 10—year conspiracy.
volkswagen is pleading guilty to three felonies, conspiracy to defraud the united states, to commit wire fraud and to violate the clean air act. obstruction of justice and importation of goods by false statements. the final $4.3 billion is the biggest ever levied by the us government on a carmaker. vw has already agreed a $15 billion civil settlement with car owners and environmental authorities and worldwide, 11 million vehicles are involved in this scandal. the us attorney general said vw lied to cover up its actions. hundreds of thousands of cars that volkswagen sold in the united states were pumping illegal levels of nitrogen oxides into our atmosphere. up to a0 times more than the amounts permitted under federal law. now, what's more, these vehicles
were equipped with software that masked the true amount of the pollutants the cars released. and it looks as though the us regulators are far from finished. six executives have been formally charged with conspiracy. translation: if it does come out that management was informed about aspects of dieselgate earlier than they have so far admitted then we have to assume that lawsuits will be filed, not just by shareholders but also by the parent company who would likely make the management responsible for recalls. volkswagen says it deeply regrets the behaviour that led to this scandal, but there's still a turbulent road ahead as the company faces potentially damaging lawsuits in europe. sarah corker, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: the afghan taliban release a video of two abducted professors, one australian, the other american.
day one of operation desert storm to force the iraqis out of kuwait has seen the most intense air attacks since the second world war. tobacco is america's oldest industry, and it's one of its biggest, but the industry is nervous of this report. this may tend to make people want to stop smoking cigarettes. there is not a street that is unaffected. huge parts of kobe were simply demolished as buildings crashed into one another. this woman said she'd been given no help and no advice by the authorities. she stood outside the ruins of her business. tens of thousands of black children in south africa have taken advantage of laws, passed by the country's new multiracial government, and enrolled at formerly white schools. tonight sees the 9,6ioth performance of her long—running play, the mousetrap. when they heard about her death today, the management considered whether to
cancel tonight's performance, but agatha christie would have been the last person to want such a thing. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: donald trump has angrily dismissed claims that russia has compromising material on him and has suggested us intelligence agencies may have leaked the allegations. volkswagen agrees to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us and pay big fines for disguising emissions from its diesel cars. the taliban has released a video of two men kidnapped in august, in which they plead for president elect donald trump to negotiate for their release. its the first time australian timothy weeks, here on the left, and american kevin king, on the right, have been see since they were abducted as they left work at the american university in kabul. yes, it is some 13 minutes long and split into four or five sections and in it you see both men clearly distressed at some point, weeping, but in relatively ok
health, both say that they have been kept in good condition by the taliban, that they eat the same food as their captors, but their distress comes when they discuss what they say is their fate unless a negotiation is made successfully by the us government. they will have been under extreme duress when this was recorded. they say that the video was recorded on january one, so just one and a half weeks ago. clearly, the impact is meant to be felt here in australia and in the us. as faras meant to be felt here in australia and in the us. as far as we know, no negotiations have taken place. the mean import their families to put pressure on authorities to do so, underlying their fate as to what would happen if no exchange takes place with taliban prisoners. would happen if no exchange takes place with taliban prisonersm there any indication as to what the incoming australian and american governments are likely to do whether
we have heard from the australian government, they say they have made effo rts government, they say they have made efforts with other governments. we have seen the american government is trying to release timothy weeks. they have also given support to his family. nothing as yet from the americans, it is likely not even in donald trump's hand as yet to play a pa rt donald trump's hand as yet to play a part in this. there is a precedent that was set in 2014 when a prisoner was traded for prisoners being held in guantanamo bay. so, there is a precedent for this to take place. there is no indication as yet to how they would want is to play out. there is no indication as yet to how they would want is to play outm is clearly professors are stressed, is clearly professors are stressed, is there any other indication on the state of their health? they say that they eat the same food as the taliban and used the phrase, good conditions. they certainly look
stressed and it looked as though they may have been straining in the light, indicating they may have been keptin light, indicating they may have been kept in dark conditions. their whereabouts has been difficult to track. we believe that us navy seals did track them shortly after their kidnapping and try to rescue them after that in kabul. but it is believed that they were moved hours before the navy hit the ground. so, they have been kept well away from public view. this is the first indication of their existence and that they are still alive. their families will dearly hope that that remains the case and that this can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. in other news: it's reported iraqi forces have made new advances fighting the extremists of the so—called islamic state group around mosul. the troops met fierce resistance when they first fought their way into the outskirts of mosul more than two months ago,
but it seems they've made more steady progress in recent weeks. norway's attorney general has told a hearing that the mass murderer, anders breivik, has to be kept in isolation in prison, to stop him spreading far—right ideology and inspiring more attacks. the state is appealing against a lower court ruling that keeping him in isolation breaches his rights. italy's prime minister is recovering from heart surgery in a hospital in rome. paolo gentiloni fell ill on his return from a meeting with the french president in paris. his office says he's been awake and in touch by phone. a planned meeting with the british prime minister on thursday has now been postponed. the president of the philippines has ordered government agencies to offer free contraceptives to an estimated six million women who cannot obtain them. rodrigo duterte's plans are controversial in a majority catholic country, but the president says he wants to reduce unwanted pregnancies. the past year has seen a dramatic drop in the number of migrants seeking asylum in germany.
official figures released by the federal office for migration and refugees show 280,000 claimants arrived there last year, compared to 890,000 in 2015. the german interior minister says the decrease is due to the closure of the balkan route and the deal between the eu and turkey. our correspondentjenny hill, now, from berlin. it is tempting to imagine the german government breathing a sigh of relief, these figures to represent a huge reduction of the number of people seeking asylum in germany. nearly 9000 people arrived the year before in this country. that triggered not just before in this country. that triggered notjust social disquiet but huge political turmoil. these figures are not only a significant reduction, they come much closer to what some of angela merkel‘s critics
have been calling for, a limit of 200,000 migrants every year. on the one hand, there is a sense of relief. but even ministers and admits there are huge challenges ahead. first of all, there are hundreds of thousands of outstanding asylu m hundreds of thousands of outstanding asylum applications, and then there is the business of trying to integrate the people who have been granted leave to stay and those who will be allowed to stay. this is an election year for germany. angela merkel‘s government have to persuade a nervous electorate that integration can happen successfully and that it can happen while also identifying any terrorist that have come in with the migrant influx. any sense of tie—up may be tempered by the fact that this reduction in numbers has very little to do with any kind of domestic policy. angela merkel‘s government have gradually tough their asylum policy, but the
reason the numbers have reduced are not necessarily to do with that. the balkan roots close their doors to migrants, effectively sealing off their roots to germany. ministers are also aware that this reduction is also very much reliant on that migrant deal struck between the eu and turkey. it is a fragile deal, they don't know whether it will hold. it is doing so for the moment but it is precarious. as the world awaits whatever a trump presidency may bring, the obama presidency draws ever closer to its end, and so too does the work of an artist who has followed his daily life for eight years. rob pruitt has painted a single image for every day of obama's time in office. that's nearly 3,000 paintings. they are now on display at the gavin brown gallery in new york, where the bbc caught up with him. when he won, i thought to myself, i need a place to put all of this energy. you know, ijust can't go back to life as usual so i thought that
i would commit to making one painting of him every day of his presidency as a visual diary. it's very rare that you see an image of the president driving a car. when i started to think about what this visual diary would be like, i started thinking about my hometown, which is washington, dc, where there are many monuments to previous presidents. this is a good one. i was thinking i would take the patriotically american colours of red, white and blue and visualise them as stone, and that's how i came up with these muted interpretations of the american flag. maybe halfway through i woke up in a panic one night not 100% in love with the colours any more, but i have already painted for years in this palette. but now again i like the colours. it was just, sort of, a moment that i subject myself to.
i always saw it as one work, all 2,922 paintings. it's at once a record of his presidency and an interpretation. each day is given the same size and the same painting treatment. whether he's getting a shave ice in hawaii on christmas vacation or he's signing the healthcare act, it's all given the same weight within my project because i wanted to make a monument to the entire presidency. so when i look forward to january the 20th, i think that for myself, like for a lot of americans, it's going to be a very difficult and emotional day. president obama is a very visionary leader and to say goodbye to that is not going to be an easy thing. rob pruitt there, speaking about his extraordinary project.
well, after president obama's farewell speech on tuesday night, he set a new personal record on social media. he took to twitter to say: thank you for everything. my last ask is the same as my first. i'm asking you to believe not in my ability to create change, but in yours. this tweet has become his most popular to date, with more than 1.3 million likes and over 650,000 retweets. and before we go, let us take you to austria, and a ski resort with a difference. this miniature resort is the creation of a 17—year—old called kevin pobatschnig, and kevin built it in his parent's backyard with only a little bit of help from them. everything in it is around one thirtieth the size of real life. it's a fair bet he has a promising career ahead in engineering. thank you for watching. hello.
i know already some of you have seen some fairly wintry conditions. i think, over the next couple of days, that prospect becomes a good deal more widespread across the british isles. thursday dawns with still a lot of wind to be had across the northern half of the british isles, maybe not just as windy as wednesday was, and it is a cold start to the day. cold and dry to start in the south—east. don't be fooled by that, because relatively mild air is moving in from the atlantic. we have real concerns through the day again about the strength of the wind and the snow, initially in northern parts, but there is a change on the way for southern areas. because your mild air, bringing the rain, will eventually run into that cold air, which is already in situ across wales, the midlands, and the northern parts of the british isles. and, as that moisture runs into the cold air, so i think we'll see quite a significant conversion, slowly but surely through the day,
of some of that rain into snow. initially across the high ground of wales, but eventually, as we get on into the afternoon, so more widely snow will become an issue, and notjust at higher levels, either. some doubt about the exact wheres and whens, but that is the general principle. all the while across the northern half of the british isles it is another bitterly cold day, with a lot of wind driving a whole peppering of showers into central and western parts of scotland, across northern ireland, into the north—west of england, and into northern parts of wales, on what is going to feel like a bitterly cold day, given the strength of the wind and the fact that your thermometers are never going to read better than two, three or four degrees. not quite out of the woods with regards to this problem in the south, because increasingly through the evening, so that snow will fall to lower levels. as it quits the scene, so those wetted surfaces will turn into icy surfaces underneath clear skies. at least clear for a time because we have another weather feature dragging the prospect of more snow ever further south across scotland, into the north of england, such that friday morning could be a real fest of frost and ice, and some snowfall,
we think, too, coming down across central and eastern parts of the british isles, before it eventually quits the scene, unfortunately just after the main rush hour, to leave behind another chilly, chilly day right across the piece, with further wintry showers across northern and western parts. but at least there will be some sunshine, and there will be a prospect of somewhat drier conditions following all the snow. the weekend starts chilly again, and then it turns milderfor many as we get to sunday. the latest headlines from bbc news. i'm mike embley. in his first news conference since he was elected, donald trump has attacked the us intelligence agencies, suggesting they may have leaked allegations that russia has compromising material on him. he said it would be a "tremendous blot" on their reputation if they were responsible. the taliban has released a video of two professors kidnapped
in august, pleading for donald trump to negotiate their release. it's the first time the australian timothy weeks, here on the left, and the american kevin king, have been seen since they were abducted as they left work at the american university in kabul. the german carmaker volkswagen has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in the us for using illegal software to disguise the level of emissions from its diesel powered cars. it has also agreed to pay 4.3 billion dollars in fines. six employees have been indicted, including one arrested just last week. let's have a quick look at some of the front pages. the ft leads with donald trump‘s first press conference as president—elect in which he criticised the intelligence